Front-End vs. Back-End Development: Which Should You Learn?

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

September 21, 2022


If you’ve heard the terms “front end” and “back end” in relation to coding but don’t quite understand how they’re different, you’ve come to the right place. 

At Launch Academy, we teach full-stack development, which includes both the front and back end. But before you begin your journey to becoming a full-stack software developer, it’s important to know the fundamental differences between the front and back ends of a stack. 


Before you begin your journey to becoming a full-stack software developer, it’s important to know the fundamental differences between the front and back ends of a stack.


For a simple explanation, think about a major website like The front-end code generates the product pictures and descriptions; the back-end code processes orders, calculates prices, and determines how long items will take to ship. Now, let’s dive a little deeper. 

What Is Front-End Coding? 

Front-end coding is heavily concerned with user experience, aesthetics, and design. There are three technologies at the core of front-end development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Front-end technologies

Here’s a brief overview of the three front-end technologies: 

  • HTML. HTML provides a web page’s structure and organizes the information hierarchy. This type of code helps browsers indicate what information is most important and aids in search engine optimization (SEO). HTML is critical for accessibility, too. Powered by HTML, browsers can be trained to recognize the most important headlines on the page and the alternate text on images. 


  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). If HTML is the first layer of code for the front-end of the stack, CSS is the next layer. In fact, it cannot be used without HTML. CSS adds more design to a page’s structure, changing colors and sizes and creating layouts. 


  • JavaScript. JavaScript determines the user interface functions for a web page. When you click on a product image to zoom in, for example, JavaScript is the programming language that is responding to that event. We refer to these functions as user events, and JavaScript facilitates them in most modern web applications. 


You don’t necessarily need to know all three front-end technologies to be a front-end software developer. Some front-end engineers specialize in translating designs with HTML and CSS, then partner with a developer who knows JavaScript—though this approach isn’t as common as it once was. 

In many cases, front-end developers begin as interactive designers who know how to write HTML and CSS. They use low-code solutions like WordPress and SquareSpace to help them achieve the desired functionality. 

Some software developers like that front-end coding has fewer technologies to choose from and that it occurs exclusively within a web browser, but others may find this type of development limiting. 

What Is Back-End Coding? 

Back-end software engineering is less about user interface and more about what’s happening to the data that users generate. It involves analytical thinking, algorithms, and processing large bodies of information. 

Many technologies can appear on the back end of a stack that aren’t transparent to end users. The two major components of the back end are the server and the database. 


When you navigate to a URL on the internet, you end up requesting data from the application’s server. The server has a unique ID number, called an IP address, that you pull up when you type the website into the search bar. 

Your search triggers the server to fill your browser (with an HTTP response) and present you with the user interface you were looking for. 

Many servers are aided by open source programs and frameworks, like WordPress, where people can deploy a pre-made server to share content. 


Most databases rely on Studied Query Language (SQL), a programming language, to manage their data. Others, like MongoDB and CouchDB, are NoSQL databases, which are considerably different.

There’s a general assumption that analytical people are best suited for back-end development, and people who are creative and interested in design are best suited for front-end development. However, we believe these stereotypes are hugely oversimplified. 

At Launch Academy, we teach full-stack development and advise people to give both front-end and back-end development a serious try. Great developers are effective at both sides of the stack, and the only way to find your niche is to dive in! 

Download our syllabus today to learn more about our coding bootcamp.